Carousel Theatre and Kaleidoscope Theatre
Oz by Patrick Shanahan

When & Where March 1-26, 2023, various dates and times | Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island, Vancouver

Director Jennica Grienke Lighting Design Rebekah Jonhson Set Design Ryan Cormack Costume Design Donnie Tejani Properties Monica Emme Sound Design Mary Jane Coomber Stage Manager Taylor Mackinnon

Cast L. Frank Baum Stephan Thakkar Bridgey Melanie Yeats Dot Megan Zong

Reviewer Elizabeth Paterson

How do you tell the story of the Wizard of Oz with only 3 actors? With an inventive text, versatile actors and a hefty dose of imagination, that’s how.

Playwright Patrick Shanahan's conceit is to set his play in L. Frank Baum's own house in 19th century Chicago and people it with Baum himself (Stephen Thakkar), his housekeeper, Bridgey (Melanie Yeats) and a young housebreaker, Dot by name (Megan Zong).

Baum is wrestling with writer’s block when he discovers Dot hiding in his study. After some amusing sparring, Baum begins to read the opening of his tale. Dot immediately begins to suggest improvements – why not start in Kansas, a place neither of them has ever been, full of possibility. Bouncing ideas off each other, they climb all over the furniture, hang scarves on the ceiling fan to for the cyclone, and cannibalize the room’s 19th century bric-a-brac. A footstool becomes Toto the dog, a birdcage turns into the Scarecrow, a mop makes the Cowardly Lion and a watering can oils the Tin Man.

Into this mayhem comes Bridgey who plunges into the game playing all the Witches, both Wicked and Good. Baum becomes the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, as well as the Munchkins and many others including the great Wizard. Dot of course is Dorothy.

In a careful performance, and despite playing many parts, Thakkar transforms easily from Scarecrow to Tin Man to Lion and never puts a foot wrong. Melanie Yeats brings energy and presence to her roles and Megan Zong shines as Dot/Dorothy.

Ryan Cormac (set), Donnie Tejani (costume) and Monica Emme (props) provide the ingredients for the flights of fancy, and all are ably supported by judicious lighting from Rebekah Jonhson and evocative sound design from Mary Jane Coomber.

At 90 minutes without intermission, the pace sometimes lags. However, under Jennica Grienke's direction, a good deal of fun at the beginning, and a very clear telling of the story, make this an enjoyable event for children and adults alike. Check out the Carousel website for special events and performances during March.

© 2023 Elizabeth Paterson